New bike boulevard will provide safety, reduce traffic
COLUMBIA – Bicycle riders in Columbia will have a new place to ride, and traffic could decrease after a new bike boulevard project.
The MKT to Parkade Bike Boulevard Project will create a safer bicycle route through Columbia. It will include lane striping on the entire route, a raised concrete median on Alexander Avenue, five major intersection improvements and traffic signal modifications that will allow cyclists and pedestrians to press a button when they want to cross the street.
The estimated construction cost for the project is $497,000, which will be funded through the GetAbout grant program.
Benedict Nagy is a salesperson at Walt’s Bike Shop in Columbia, as well as a recreation leader for GetAbout Columbia. Nagy said the bike boulevard will have many benefits.
“There’s less traffic, more parking spots available, healthier community and fewer cars on the road,” Nagy said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
One main reason for the new bike boulevard is safety for bike riders. With bike boulevards, bicycles have a priority over cars.
“There’s a lot of conflict in this town between motor vehicle traffic and bicycle traffic, and more people would use their bikes for transportation if they felt safer to use the streets and trails,” Nagy said.
James Connors likes to ride his bike on the MKT Trail close to where it will connect to the bike boulevard. He hopes the boulevard will improve safety and get more people to ride their bikes.
“I think the bike boulevard would be great because then people know the bikers are there, and it’s specifically designed for them,” Connors said. “It gives more opportunities for recreation and getting out there and enjoying yourself.”
The Columbia Public Works Department held two interested party meetings in 2013 and a public hearing in 2014. The city council authorized a call for bids for the project at its meeting April 18.